In a case destined to go to the Supreme Court, the Insurance Journal reports Federal Judge in Florida Rules Federal Healthcare Law Must Be Voided

U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson, appointed to the bench by President Ronald Reagan in 1983, ruled that the reform law’s so-called “individual mandate” went too far in requiring that Americans start buying health insurance in 2014 or pay a penalty.

“Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire act must be declared void. This has been a difficult decision to reach, and I am aware that it will have indeterminable implications,” Vinson wrote.

He was referring to a key provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and sided with governors and attorneys general from 26 U.S. states, almost all of whom are Republicans, in declaring it unconstitutional. The issue will likely end up at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Two other federal judges have rejected challenges to the individual mandate.

But a federal district judge in Richmond, Virginia, last month struck down that central provision of the law in a case in that state, saying it invited an “unbridled exercise of federal police powers.”

The provision is key to the law’s mission of covering more than 30 million uninsured. Officials argue it is only by requiring healthy people to purchase policies that they can help pay for reforms, including a mandate that individuals with pre-existing medical conditions cannot be refused coverage.

Unbridled Exercise of Federal Police Powers

Please consider the Wall Street Journal article Court Strikes at Health Law

U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson said the law’s requirement that most Americans carry insurance or pay a penalty “exceeds the constitutional boundaries of congressional power.”

The 42-page ruling doesn’t mean states or the federal government must stop implementing the law. But it is expected to give ammunition to a broad Republican assault against the overhaul, which includes efforts in Congress to chip away at it.

Requiring Americans to buy insurance “would invite unbridled exercise of federal police powers,” wrote Judge Hudson, a George W. Bush appointee in the Eastern District of Virginia. “At its core, this dispute is not simply about regulating the business of insurance—or crafting a scheme of universal health insurance coverage—it’s about an individual’s right to choose to participate.”

Administration officials portrayed the ruling as an attack on one of the law’s most popular provisions, the ban on insurers denying coverage to people with pre-existing health conditions. That piece of the law cannot work unless coupled with a requirement that nearly all Americans carry insurance, they said.

Who Cares if it’s Constitutional as Long as it’s Popular?

Obama does not care about constitutionality. He is concerned about bragging rights (He got healthcare passed when no other president could). He is also concerned about popularity.

Ironically, most polls show US citizens are not in favor of the bill that passed.

I happen to agree with the Virginia and Florida rulings regarding constitutionality of that provision. Moreover, given the poor way in which the bill was written, I also agree with the Florida ruling “Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire act must be declared void.”

Many will point to auto insurance as proof of legality. However, not everyone has to buy auto insurance (only those drive cars do). Moreover, the point of auto insurance is to protect others from your damage, not yourself from your damage.

Nonetheless, I do not know how the Supreme Court will rule. I suspect they will uphold the law. They would be wise to not do so. The best thing to do with the monstrous healthcare bill is start over.


“LastBoyScout” says …

Good points! Another, more important point is that auto insurance is required by individual states, not the federal government.

The 10th Amendment – Powers of States and people.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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